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Top 10 reasons why Liferay is the best Enterprise Portal product

At Xtivia, we have extensive experience delivering enterprise portal, content management, and collaboration solutions since the late 1990s, and have seen this product space mature and evolve over the years. We started with traditional commercial software from the likes of Vignette and Epicentric in the late 1990s, and moving into IBM WebSphere Portal in 2003-2004. IBM WebSphere Portal was our preferred portal platform for a few years until its heavyweight nature and high Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) started to wear on us and our customers. Unfortunately none of the Java Portal alternatives were very viable at the time – while Liferay Portal was like a breath of fresh air for us when we started to experiment with it in 2006 (circa v3.6 days), it really was not ready for prime-time from our perspective. We did a few smaller implementations based on Liferay 4.x, but it was not until v5.2 came out that we truly embraced Liferay. And v6.0 and v6.1 have only solidified our preference for Liferay as the best enterprise portal platform for our customers.

So why is Liferay Portal the best portal product in our opinion?

  1. Liferay has the lowest Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) compared to its competitors starting with its licensing and getting it up and running through development costs, operational costs, and training/support costs (from the perspective of infrastructure, developers, administrators, and end users).
  2. Second-to-none rich out-of-the-box (OOTB) functionality around core portal, content management, collaboration, social, mobile, security and more; check out http://www.liferay.com/products/liferay-portal/features/portal for more information.
  3. All portal products typically need extensions and/or additions to deliver requisite functionality – with Liferay you can simply do more within a specific budget.
  4. Product innovation – leader in introducing new capabilities whether it be AJAX or friendly URLs or mobile or social
  5. Improved business agility – it is lightweight in nature; you can quickly get it up and running, and it is easier to develop on/manage.
  6. A mature Enterprise Open Source (fully supported) product – 24x7x365 platinum support with 1 hour response time SLA; this includes access to all service packs, hot fixes, notifications of security alerts, phone and web based support.
  7. Liferay’s open architecture and its open source nature help you avoid lock-in to a single proprietary vendor.
  8. Liferay’s hook and extension plugin model allows you to tailor product behavior to your needs without rewriting from scratch and without creating upgrade hell.
  9. Liferay offers opportunities for product feature sponsorship to enable contributions back into the core product for key customizations – this allows you to offload responsibility of maintaining and enhancing your custom features back to Liferay.
  10. Liferay offers you a full choice of application servers, databases, and operating systems to run on, thereby allowing you to leverage your infrastructure and skills investment.

Liferay gives you a solution that works today and is flexible enough to drive future strategic growth. It is simpler than WebSphere and more flexible than SharePoint!

If you need help with your portal strategy or implementation, feel free to contact us at info@xtivia.com.

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I don't think I explicitly called out Liferay's community as another reason why Liferay rocks, but that is certainly an important one as well.
Posted on 2/13/12 5:46 PM.
Anonymous User
And Liferay's extensive network of partners is always there to ensure a successful implementation.
Posted on 2/14/12 2:21 AM.
Anonymous User
Great overview of why Liferay is a great product.
Posted on 2/14/12 3:08 AM.
Anonymous User
You know when you are reading a bs post when people list "Improved business agility" as a feature

Lets get real for a second. Liferay is both too buggy and too insecure to consider for anything serious. If you like your job and want to hold on to it do not select liferay
Posted on 2/15/12 10:37 PM.
You are certainly entitled to your opinion, as am I mine! emoticon Every product has bugs and security holes whether it be IBM or Microsoft or Oracle or Liferay or "take your pick vendor". I could go on with stories about what I have seen from other vendors but that is neither here nor there - we have certainly run into our fair share of defects in Liferay and worked with Liferay support to resolve them. And we have certainly encountered security issues and deployed Liferay security patches. However, saying that does not imply that Liferay is not a good choice for a portal platform.

As for "business agility" - it does matter - how long does it take a developer to get going with a given platform and what features come out of the box, truly are important criteria in making your product selection.

Thanks for your comment (need to add the capability to Liferay to optionally capture names/emails on anon comments emoticon) even though you disagree!
Posted on 2/15/12 11:01 PM in reply to Anonymous User.
Anonymous User
Let's agree to disagree. I can't tell you how sick and tired I am of having to explain to the customer that they've hit yet another bug in Liferay. I am willing to wager that you can't name a single non trivial feature in liferay that isn't severely broken in one way or another (try me!)

Worst of all nothing is likely to change. The codebase is architected in such a way that it's completely untestable. And the developers working on the product are selected not on their level of skill but on if they go to the same church as the primary author of the platform.

If liferay where to die today the world would be a better place for it
Posted on 2/15/12 11:31 PM in reply to Vivek Agarwal.
Thanks for taking the time to reply! As you said, we will have to agree to disagree on this one! It is clear that you have been burnt with Liferay - you are right that I cannot name a single non-trivial feature of Liferay that I can rightfully say did not have defects - you take a product as feature-rich as Liferay (or its competitors), and you (or I) would be hard-pressed to say it (or a key component) is bug-free. But I think that is just the nature of enterprise software. You take IBM WebSphere Portal and look at the list of fixes that went into WP7 fixpack 2 (http://www-01.ibm.com/support/docview.wss?uid=swg27020891#7002), you will see that there are 352 core IBM WebSphere Portal fixes and 342 IBM Web Content Management fixes; and these counts include many cumulative fixes to boot, AND obviously despite all these fixes, there are still other bugs. And I could repeat this for every other enterprise product (not just portal) out there.

I think that thousands of Liferay customers that include a significant number of Enterprise Edition customers would join me in disagreeing with your last statement about Liferay's death and its consequences.

Peace and the very best to you!
Posted on 2/16/12 12:05 AM in reply to Anonymous User.
Anonymous User
Hey, you forgot that Liferay is helping the economy! The NASDAQ closed today at levels we haven't seen since pre9-11 after the worst crash in our lifetimes. How can that possibly happen? Companies are doing a lot more with a lot less. Liferay fits the bill and your developers will be excited about what they're working on. Everyone wins.
Posted on 2/29/12 5:45 AM.
Anonymous User
I must admit that I agree with your comment about all portals being buggy to some extent, this is unfortunately the case with any product as complicated and generic as a portal container.

I'm not as hardline as the previous anonymous poster, but I encounter the same problems and I have to take issue with it being a good platform for developers.

Further to this, if you want to do anything using best practices, things become very difficult. Random exceptions ensue and (my personal favourite) some even get swallowed and not reported.

Add to this the Liferay Developer Studio which breaks continuously if you try to do anything with more than about 3 projects and 'live' deploy which works differently depending upon if you drag to the server or right click and use the context menu.

If that wasn't enough, trying to override even the simplest of actions can leave you with references to portal-impl.jar, which isn't allowed due to classloader issues...

Finally, and the real icing, is that the jsps are full of logic as well as the struts controllers and the display . MVC anyone?


Ok, I just tried to submit this, and got "You have entered invalid data", at which point I was whisked off to a different page with no hope of finding this one again. Not to mention the url parameters!
Posted on 2/29/12 10:18 AM in reply to Vivek Agarwal.
Anonymous User
Or what I got wrong...
Posted on 2/29/12 10:20 AM in reply to Anonymous User.
Anonymous User
I'll note that my own personal best practices are to build and deploy the same way the production builds will be built and deployed. (This prevents the whole "it works on my machine" syndrome). This means using Ant, and external bundles, run from a command line/terminal. Note that while Liferay Developer Studio (LDS) purports to support Ant build files, this is not 100% true, since it will run the tasks through its own interpreter, giving potentially different results.(Eclipse has this same problem)

LDS is based on Eclipse, and has the same short comings in many respects that I feel Eclipse has. Namely, this whole concept of running your app server within Eclipse and hotdeploying your code to it, which in my experience leads to nothing but trouble. Even hotdeploying code to an external app server will eventually run into trouble, but it's usually a PermGen error, simply resolved by restarting the app server.

LDS then becomes purely an IDE for code, which IMNSHO is all it is really good for, everything else is usually some compromise, whether in LDS or due to Eclipse shortcomings. This will solve almost all your issues with the development environment.

Next up, your statements on exceptions. Most are either NPEs, or PortalExceptions or SystemExceptions. They are usually relatively easy to figure out what the problem is, but occasionally the references are a bit obtuse. The one area I'd agree with you on swallowed exceptions is regarding template processing with WebContent. Any error in Java code you call in your template, and you will never discover it.

Regarding Liferay's practices and not honoring MVC? Does it matter? You don't have to work in their code, and their code should not be an excuse for you to copy it. Additionally, Liferay has extended the much better Spring MVC solution (as compared to Struts) and is promoting its use for custom portlet development. Perhaps they'll get around to refactoring all those portlets to the MVCPortlet. Perhaps not.
Posted on 2/29/12 4:58 PM in reply to Anonymous User.
Anonymous User
I will have to agree with some of this.
I am bit tired of trying to to make work some of the announced features that simply don't work or are useless.
I still don't see the use for the Dynamic List Libraries.If the were an attempt to make sharepoint lists, they could spare the time...don't get even close.
Maybe I am wrong and just did not get the right information and documentation.
But that is also part of a good job in promoting a product.
Posted on 3/1/12 12:34 AM in reply to Anonymous User.
Wow - I certainly managed to excite a debate here! I am certainly not blind to some of the issues within Liferay - no product is perfect. I am keen to hear from the previous commenter what he thinks SharePoint Lists give that Liferay dynamic data lists (DDL) do not provide. I imagine there are gaps given that SharePoint lists have existed for a while, but despite having used SP lists, I am hard pressed to think of something key that is missing in Liferay DDL.

Another commenter had talked about Liferay silently swallowing exceptions - if you read my previous post on exception handling ( https://blogs.xtivia.com/home/-/blogs/a-controversial-topic-exception-handling-a­pproach- ) you will see I have strong opinions on this subject, and swallowing **meaningful** exceptions is certainly a no-no in my book. I would have to agree with you in saying that this needs improvement - maybe some JIRA issues need to be filed!
Posted on 3/5/12 4:12 AM in reply to Anonymous User.
Anonymous User
"Regarding Liferay's practices and not honoring MVC? Does it matter? You don't have to work in their code, and their code should not be an excuse for you to copy it"

That kind of depends.. if you are using it purely as a portlet container and are not using any of the built in components then yes this is true

The problem is that if you want to integrate tightly. For instance use their database caches and replication features. You have to use servicebuilder for your own services. Which pushes upon you a programming model which is.. lets just say not so nice

Likewise if you want to achieve a consistent look and feel you have to use the liferay aui components / taglibs which aren't designed to be used in a mvc environment. Want to use the asset publisher framework? It really won't work well unless you put service calls in your jsps

Transactions? forget about it, foreign keys? ofcourse not!

No serious developer could possibly be happy developing applications the liferay way
Posted on 3/22/12 12:32 PM in reply to Anonymous User.
Anonymous User
Liferay is a contrived patchwork of anti-patterns and cobbled together code. I had extensive experience working with it circa 2003-2006 (even fixing the AD authentication), but gave up on it because it was too buggy. Save yourself the trouble and look at some other solution
Posted on 4/6/12 1:01 PM.
Anonymous User
I've been using LIferay in production for three years now and I can only agree with the harsh judgements from the other anonymous commenters. I will never again pick this product for any deployment anywhere.

Liferay is exceptionally buggy. The community is a joke -- I'm so sick and tired of browsing through issue threads that end with a "...anybody found a solution to this problem?" comment. Add that existing documentation is either too shallow or fragmented to be of any use and you find yourself pretty much alone when you run into bug after bug. I've spent way too much time researching and patching up serious bugs in basic and fundamental features just to get things running, always telling myself "there can't be many more broken parts in the core now".

PS: I have extensive experience delivering enterprise portal, content management, and collaboration solutions since the late 1990s
Posted on 4/27/12 7:45 PM.
Sorry to see so many having issues with the product. Personally, I became sold on it after being frustrated for years with "black box" COTS products. I didn't see alot of standards support and documentation seemed to prove trying. For me, open source methodology is more flexible and more powerful to meeting client needs.
Posted on 8/6/12 7:26 PM in reply to Anonymous User.
Anonymous User
For beginners, trying to first understand <a href="http://www.javaexperience.com/what-is-liferay/">what is liferay</a> makes more sense then just going ahead and using for a specific requirement.
Posted on 12/22/12 2:08 AM in reply to Rick Osborn.
Anonymous User
Posted on 12/22/12 2:08 AM in reply to Anonymous User.
Anonymous User
I have to agree with this post. Liferay and JSR 168/286 are for the web of the past. Limited DBMS support, heavy and bloated Java code, theming and styling problems, and lack of true ajax support basically make it suck.
Posted on 3/19/13 3:18 PM in reply to Anonymous User.
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